Runners to your marks

It’s off to the races in Nevada. Sandoval is sleek in the saddle. Angle jockeys for position after foiling another filly and also-rans. Two thin but fit Reids run for similar high stakes.

Let’s start with Harry, aging champ, and Sharron, come-from-behind conservative. Conventional wisdom in the U.S. Senate race focuses on Democrat Harry Reid’s reelection shot in the arm after Sharron Angle’s GOP primary election victory.

But such races don’t always go by form. Age and guile can’t rest because youth and enthusiasm won’t want to be denied. Bet that the elder Reid, he of Searchlight, Nev., and Senate majority leadership, won’t take victory for granted. He still will raise and spend upwards of $20 million to make Angle and Republicans put up or shut down.

Conventional wisdom folk scoff at Angle’s chances. Undoubtedly it’s because money talks. She also needs to persuade non-Republican conservative opponents to drop out or watch Reid capitalize.

But Reid hauls the extra weight of his own eastern alter-ego. He’s an incumbent in dour times. He’s a Democrat as the pendulum swings toward Republicans. As majority leader, he pushes legislation in tandem with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for President Obama.

He led the charge for a mega-stimulus that didn’t stimulate. He crammed through a health-care revamp, slapping a skimpy but costly bandage on a gaping wound.

During his watch, we got bailouts for Wall Street folks and foreign financiers, United Auto Workers at GM and that new foreign firm (Chrysler). And he was in power when problems sparking financial implosion grew from infancy to infamy.

Reid touts his power and what he can do for Nevada, but in federal budgets he brought back some 70 cents in services for every $1 Nevadans paid in income taxes over the years. Also, he returned with some pork handouts, basically just bragging rights.

Angle’s record will get savaged, her stances sullied by Reid & Co. But calling a passionate conservative, passionate, is redundancy repeated. Had Sue Lowden or another candidate won the GOP primary, Reid’s minions would still have pounced.

Angle and Lowden, former Nevada legislators, led the GOP pack with Angle winning handily. I favored investment banker John Chachas but knew he was a longer shot than former hoop star Danny Tarkanian.

No matter. It’s still hometown Searchlight Harry versus Washington’s D.C. Reid.

It’s also Reid & Reid in top races. Harry and Rory both beat token opposition from other Democrats, the younger seeking Nevada’s governorship. While his dad moves to grab the rail against Angle, the Clark County commissioner and chief executive wannabe faces a stud who bumped a sitting governor in the GOP primary.

Former Federal Judge Brian Sandoval breezed in beating Gov. Jim Gibbons, wresting away the Republican gubernatorial nomination and making history with the win over the incumbent and also-rans.

Sen. Reid may lug his baggage across the line for term five, but his son won’t win the Governor’s Cup. I bet a split ticket election looms.

Buffalo SUNY Professor Joshua Dyck, in a ticket-splitting study abstract and paper presented in Las Vegas to the Western Political Science Association in 2007, said, “Straight ticket national voters who split their gubernatorial vote are distinctive from other split-ticketers.”

In a subsequent 2009 study, he found only 13 states’ partisan votes were consistent across U.S. House and Senate delegations, state legislative delegations and governorships. “Between levels of government,” he said, “there is a great amount of variation in partisan voting outcomes.”

They’re off, and this handicapper says November’s daily double will go to Brian and Harry.